Monday, February 23, 2015

Virginia’s Sexually Violent Predator Program: Today, four to five people are admitted each month, and about 30 are released each year with 367 currently being held. Those who were discharged last year were held an average of three years and nine months, at a cost of $300 a day per resident.

Facility holds sex offenders who've served their time, February 23, 2015
By Margaret Matray

Rodney Bernard Jones has a history of grabbing young women's buttocks. 

A clinical psychologist said the 52-year-old felon has a mental disorder that makes it difficult to control his predatory behavior and "makes him likely to engage in sexually violent acts," according to court documents. 

After nearly 15 years in prison for sex assault, Jones was scheduled to be released April 1. 

But the state attorney general wants him to be civilly committed to a state facility that houses sexually violent predators after they've served their time. 

Once again, Jones must go before a judge or jury who will decide his fate. 

Each year, an average of 132 inmates like Jones are evaluated for potential commitment. Of the cases the attorney general brings before the court, an estimated 90 percent end up being admitted to the state facility in central Virginia, according to state figures.

Sexual Assault Rules: “All too often, outrage at heinous crimes become a justification for shortcuts in our adjudicatory process”

Penn Law Profs Revolt Over Sex Assault Rules, February 23, 2015
By Emily Shire

Due process is not “window dressing,” the professors argue. It’s necessary to establish a process’s legitimacy.

When the White House announced a new national campaign to combat sexual assault on college campuses last year, the treatment of victims was the chief concern. But now, after a more than a year filled with a flurry of campus reforms, some university faculty are increasingly worried about a different party: the accused.

The rights of students accused of sexual assault are increasingly scrutinized as colleges begin to implement new reforms to make it easier to report and respond to sexual assault. Decades of university failure to care for sexual assault victims has understandably produced a backlash, but there is growing concern that due process for the accused may be the baby tossed out with the bath water.

Just last week, 16 professors at the University of Pennsylvania Law School released an open letter criticizing the school’s newly revised sexual assault policy. Of prime concern in the exhaustive critique were insufficient procedures to ensure due process and a fair trial for students accused of sexual assault.

“We do not believe that providing justice for victims of sexual assault requires subordinating so many protections long deemed necessary to protect from injustice those accused of serious offenses,” states the letter, which was authored by nearly one-third of the tenured law faculty. It goes on to argue that the new policies, which went into effect on Feb. 1, have “sacrificed the traditional safeguards that accompany traditional lawmaking procedures.”